EU Commission President elected in 1999, after the fall of the Santer Commission. In November 2004 he was succeeded as Commission President by Jose Manual Barroso.
Prodi is a former Italian Prime Minister and a professor of political economy. He is well-known for his blunt talking on policy matters. His tendency to call "a spade a spade" pleases some Euro-critics, yet sometimes upsets his own staff. In 2002, he called the Growth and Stability-Pact the “stupidity pact” because of it is too inflexible to cope with the need for policies to encourage growth and employment throughout the Eurozone.
With reference to the EU’s Rapid Reaction Force, which the British Government and others did not consider as a European Army, "When I was talking about a European Army, I was not joking. If you don't want to call it a European Army, don't call it a European Army. You can call it 'Margaret', you can call it 'Mary-Anne', you can find any name, but it is a joint effort for peace-keeping missions - the first time you have a joint, not bilateral, effort at European level".
He told the Danish voters during the referendum on the single currency in 2000 that they were not obliged to vote “Yes” to the Euro.
Prodi told the Irish voters during the "Nice" referendum in 2002 that EU enlargement would continue regardless of the Irish adoption of the Treaty of Nice, and that "Nice" was only a political and not a legal condition for enlargement - a message that did not go down well with the Irish Government and Ireland’s “Yes” campaigners.
In complete secrecy, he let a small group of EU civil servants around François Lamoureux draft a complete EU constitution, named “Penelope” after the wife of Ulysses. This document was only printed in a few numbered copies and was kept secret until the last moment. Then, the majority in the EU Commission refused to support it and backed the “official” EU Commission submission to the Convention on the Future of Europe. Therefore, Prodi’s "Penelope" scheme has only the status of a preliminary working document being much more detailed and politically sensitive than the official Commission document.
Prodi is a committed Euro-federalist who has published parts of his mail register on the Internet and made EU Commission agendas and minutes available on the Internet.
Following his return to Italian politics in 2004, Prodi is mentioned as a possible candidate for Prime Minister of Italy, running for the centre-left coalition at the next elections.
Prodi has written the preface to a book on the Treaty of Nice by Danish Euro-critic Jens-Peter Bonde, although he takes a very different view.